A slew of previously unheard tracks from short-burning but bright Sydney band Shy Impostors is about to be released on Citadel Records, to coincide with the band playing a one-off reunion in support of the Sunnyboys’ Sydney show on February 4.You can pre-order your copy here.
Shy Impostors were active in 1979-80 and their ranks included future Sunnyboys Richard Burgman and Peter Oxley. Fronted by singer-songwriter Penny Ward and also featuring drummer Michael Charles (Lipstick Killers, Screaming Tribesmen, Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers), they played infectious, raucous and melodic pop music.
In February of 1980 the band recorded seven songs at Palm Studios, Sydney. Two of these tracks, “At The Barrier” b/w “Seein' Double”, were posthumously released late in 1980 on Sydney's Phantom label. The other five languished in the vaults.
During 2016 all seven tracks were restored from original master tapes and mixed by producer Jason Blackwell. The resulting self-titled CD is a long overdue retrospective giving yet another intriguing insight into the formative years of Sydney's post Radio Birdman indie music explosion.
Captain Fast (P Ward) (3:08 m:s)
At The Barrier (P Ward) (2:57 m:s)
When Night Comes In (P Ward) (3:22 m:s)
Sweet Defender (P Ward) (1:55 m:s)
My Sin Is My Pride (The Astronauts) (2:32 m:s)
She Can't Win (P Ward) (2:31 m:s)
Seein' Double (P Ward/M Charles) (3:32 m:s)
Jeff Sullivan and Julie Mostyn. Steve Teece photo
The dictionary defines serendipity as “a pleasant surprise” and it's a term that scientists working in medical research are fond of using. It’s also at the heart of how the looming reformation of beloved Sydney band the Flaming Hands came about.
Singer Julie Mostyn is on the phone from the Coffs Harbour home she shares with husband Warwick Gilbert, onetime bassist and graphic artist for Radio Birdman. She clearly remembers serendipity’s intervention on that very same landline, late in 2016.
“It was one of those life-changing phone calls…one that shocks you out of something you’ve been trying to get out of for a while,” she recalls.
“It was a call from Peter Oxley of the Sunnyboys, and he said: ‘Would you consider reforming the Flaming Hands?’ And I thought for half a second and said: ‘Yeah, that’d be good’.”
Talk about timing. It was as good as any excuse for Julie to ditch her day job in a local bank and embark on what's not so much a career revival as a chance to revisit great times, renew old partnerships and - maybe - push the musical boat out just a little further.
More on that last point later. More immediately, it means Flaming Hands supporting the Sunnyboys at the Sydney show of their February Australian tour, with similarly reformed friends, Shy Impostors, opening the gig.
Flaming Hands were Sydney’s best soul and psych pop band, a potent and popular outfit based around Julie Mostyn’s passionate voice and guitarist Jeff Sullivan’s emotion-baring songs.
So, let’s assume that you enjoyed the plunge into the Matrix, and are curious to hear more.
This will of course, naturally lead you to their fourth, and last, studio album, "Loaded"; the Super Deluxe six disc box set is "Re-Loaded", the two disc set from 1997 is "Fully Loaded".
Now, "Loaded" itself is an excellent, heavily industry-influenced, subtly smart pop album. But, after coming from "The Matrix Tapes", you’ll feel that this album is a little too shiny, starchy and … just doesn’t quite have the juice.
I remember first hearing this LP after having thirsted through their first three records and wondering, ‘What the fuck happened to this band?’, then discovering that Mo Tucker wasn’t on drums for these sessions, that Doug Yule sings on four songs, and that Lou walked away as soon as recording was complete. David Fricke’s article on "Loaded" in the December 2015 issue of Mojo provides excellent background to what is a not-fully Velvet Underground record.